HORSE in Basketball
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How To Play HORSE In Basketball – Details & Steps

What is HORSE in basketball? HORSE is a game that was originally played on the playgrounds of elementary schools. But it has evolved into more than just fun for kids. In basketball, it is an exciting game that requires speed, agility, and athleticism! HORSE can be played with 2 players or more. The object of the game is to make shots from each letter (H-O-R-S-E) until someone misses.

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What is “HORSE” in Basketball?

HORSE in basketball began in the 1950s, but it has been played for much longer. It was originally played on playgrounds of elementary schools all over the United States. HORSE basketball is fun for kids because it requires speed, agility, and athleticism!

The original rules of HORSE in basketball had no letters or numbers on them; players used words instead. For example, if someone missed a shot from behind the three-point line he would have to say “I love you”. But over time people lost interest in saying random phrases when missing shots. So they started numbering each spot on the floor from different points on the court:

  • One Point Line – In between where free throw lines would be if the court were an official basketball court.
  • Two Point Line – On either side of the free-throw line, basically where a person would have to shoot from behind in HORSE for two points.
  • Three-Point Line – The same as above but this is where people shot three-point shots from HORSE.
  • Four Point Line – People shot four-pointers (shots that are made after jumping over someone’s head) HORSE style at this spot on the floor. However, you could also say “unlimited” meaning there was no limit to how many times someone missed before they lost HORSE and had to give up their ball or item of choice!
HORSE in Basketball

What Are The Rules For HORSE in Basketball?

HORSE in basketball has a lot of rules, but the game is simple to play. HORSE starts with one player making a shot from each letter (H-O-R-S-E) until they miss. If your opponent makes both shots, then you’re “one down”. Once someone gets ‘down’. That person must make their next shot, or else it’s an automatic point for the other player!

The number of points to win HORSE varies between players and skill level. We recommend playing best out of five rounds if this is your first time.

You can also choose another word/variation instead of HORSE like PIG, BULL DOGGIE BOYZ, or KANGAROO, JUMPING, FENCE…the possibilities are endless!

  • HORSE game starts with one player making a shot from each letter (H-O-R-S-E) until they miss. If your opponent makes both shots, then you’re “one down”. Once someone gets ‘down’, that person must make their next shot, or else it’s an automatic point for the other player!
  • HORSE game starts with one player making a shot from each letter (H-O-R-S-E) until they miss. If your opponent makes both shots, then you’re “one down”. Once someone gets ‘down’, that person must make their next shot, or else it’s an automatic point for the other player!

How do I Keep Score When Playing HORSE in Basketball?

The winner is determined by how many rounds are won without getting “down” first. To keep score during HORSE when playing with two players, use this simple equation: win = total points – total number of failed attempts to get previous letters + the number of made consecutive free throws at end of five rounds. Since there are no hoop rims in HORSE, free throws are shots taken from the same spot as your previous letter.

How Do You Play HORSE in Basketball?

Here are some steps for how you play HORSE basketball:

  • Set up your playing area by putting up hoops and/or backboards depending on what variation of HORSE you’re playing.
  • Choose a person to start first and then alternate turns after that.
  • The player who starts gets five chances or “possessions” to make shots from each HORSE letter (H-O-R-S-E) until they miss.
  • Once that player misses, the other player gets a turn.
  • After someone has missed for the first time in HORSE, it’s an automatic point for their opponent who continues play by shooting after you get down one letter!

Tips on How To Shoot From Different Letters (H-O-R-S-E)

HORSE in Basketball

H-Shot

Shoot this shot with one foot on either side of HORSE’s free throw line (like regular HORSE)

O-Shot

Shoot this shot while standing anywhere behind your opponent’s three-point line. If you make the basket, get only one point! This counts as O for HORSE even though by rule you would get two points since it was made from beyond three-point range.

R-Shot

Take this shot while inside your opponent’s key or the restricted area known as half-court or center circle/free throw line depending on what variation of HORSE you’re playing. This counts as HORSE even though by the rule, HORSE is supposed to be taken from a half-court distance.

S-Shot

Shoot this shot while standing anywhere behind your opponent’s three-point line, but if it goes in then get two points! If you miss, don’t worry—this is not an automatic point for your opponent since they already got their S which was just made at short range (three-pointer).

E-Shot

Take this shot where E would normally go on HORSE and shoot it like a regular free throw with both feet facing out into the key or restricted area known as half-court depending on what variation of HORSE you’re playing. For variations that do allow players to move around after a letter is shot, this counts as HORSE.

If you miss it and your opponent makes their next E-Shot (a free throw), they don’t get an extra point for HORSE—only getting one point if they make both shots of the same HORSE letter.

Types of Shots in HORSE

Bank Shot

A bank shot is when you shoot the ball off all or part of the backboard before it hits either rim.

Bank shots are also scored differently depending on whether they hit the front or back part of the board, so be aware that if someone makes a bank shot but doesn’t get HORSE then they only get one point!

Swish

The swish shot is when you make a shot and there’s no sound upon the ball going through the net. It happens if the rim doesn’t move at all or less than half an inch after someone shoots—this is also called “swishing”.

Swish shots are worth two points, just like regular HORSE that has to be taken from behind three-point range!

It can get tricky though because some players might say they heard something while others didn’t which may lead to disputes over whether it was swished or not. To avoid this problem, we recommend using either tape or chalk on your backboard so it’s easier for everyone involved in HORSE to see if there was any movement of their opponent’s rim during shooting.

No Look

A no-look shot is when someone shoots the ball without looking at it.

To avoid this, players can either look at their opponent’s rim or backboard before shooting so they don’t shoot blind and miss HORSE entirely!

If you make HORSE with a no-look shot then that counts as two points just like regular HORSE would—you still get one point for not missing HORSE completely though.

Sitting Down

Sitting down HORSE is when you can score by sitting down on the court after shooting instead of getting up to run back into position.

Opposite Hand

The opposite hand shot is when you shoot HORSE with your non-dominant hand.

Can You Play HORSE With 3 Players?

HORSE can be played with three or more people. It is typically played head-to-head, but you could also play HORSE in teams of two on each half-court if your playing area allows for it!

It is great if you’re playing HORSE with a big group of people at once!

HORSE in Basketball

Conclusion

We hope you find this game as enjoyable and challenging as we do. It’s a great way to spend time with friends, family, or even by yourself when the weather is bad outside. Have you ever played HORSE in basketball? Let us know in the comments below!

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What did we expect vs. what we got. Is it maybe overrated/underrated?

Elite

Here’s our pick from the very best of the bunch.

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